Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, has said the new United Kingdom immigration policy is to the advantage of Nigerians.
Laing spoke during a welcome home ceremony for returning Chevening scholars in Abuja. Laing said unlike in the past when the United Kingdom used to give priority to European Union citizens, the government has decided to provide equal opportunity to all.
Laing said: “The point is, it is an open scheme, open to everybody. When we were part of the European Union, we had to give preferential access to European migrants. Now, this is open, this will be more open.
“Well, as I mentioned, the point about it is that it is completely neutral. It is open to everybody and except that anyone can apply under the new system. It doesn’t come in yet. This is being tried for a while after we’ve left the European Union at the end of the year,”
Asked about the negative impact the policy may have on Nigerians, the envoy said the reverse was the case. “For Nigerians like Chevening scholars, who are very well qualified to secure a job, it should be easier to come to the UK.
The proposals require each foreign worker to earn 70 points to be eligible and a set number of points for each qualification or skill. A maximum 20 points are awarded for prospective migrants who will earn at least £25,600 ($33,325 or 30,820 euros) and no points for those who will make the required minimum of £20,480.
Twenty points also go to people with an “appropriate skill level” and another 20 for those who speak English “at required level”. Britain’s current salary threshold for skilled migrants is £30,000. People who have jobs “in a shortage qualification” will also earn 20 points, and either 10 or 20 points for doctorate degrees in various fields.
“Applicants will be able to ‘trade’ characteristics such as their specific job offer and qualifications against a lower salary,” the government proposal says. Overall, the government said the aim is to “reduce overall migration numbers,” another demand of Brexit supporters but did not give a figure on the expected fall.